Despite the grilling that Rahm Emanuel took last week as part of the Chicago Board of Elections inquest to determine whether he was legally entitled to run for mayor, considering his two year absence serving as chief of staff for President Obama, he remained unflappable.
Presented with a Byzantine spectacle, including the presence of a redoubtable and colorful Queen Sister Georgetta Deloney, Emanuel seemed bemused, as the former queried, and parried despite being told to state questions not statements, in her opposition to his candidacy.
Surely, we felt, Emanuel must have thought that if this was part of the race then he was off to a roaring start; one albeit worthy of Barnum and Bailey.
Or, was this just Chicagopolitics?
Add to this the location, and contents, of the secret annex where family keepsakes were supposedly stored in the home, as proof positive, that Chicago was still his home, now rented to a rather recalcitrant renter, named Lori Halpin who insisted that these items were not in the house, we began to feel that we had witnessed another example of the city’s unique combination of politics, mirth, and anger that makes our political scene a combat sport.
But, when the smoke clears from all of this bantering and bickering, what remains are very serious issues for the city: job creation, lack of affordable housing – especially for the working poor and indigent, high crime, a weakened infrastructure that allowed for literal cracks in the CTA, and a glammed up downtown, that while attracting tourists has done nothing to increase the livability for ordinary citizens.
While the Chicago Tribune told readers that Emanuel would have a 32 percent lead if he ran today, we cannot help but feel that he must step out front and address the issues, rather than the almost demure appearances at CTA and Metra stops.
While the Trib’s poll is encouraging for voters and pollsters alike, we can’t help but wonder if he will show us some much needed teeth when it comes to the aforementioned issues.
A quick glance shows some odd responses from other mayoral candidates. For example, James Meeks, has reintroduced and reinvigorated the school voucher issue; but this time he has upped the anty to $4,500, an amount that he feels will give “at least 50,000 students a choice to attend any school of their choosing while we’re fixing this broken educational system.”
Isn’t it enough that we already have what is essentially a private school system funded with public dollars, in the guise of charter schools?
Eagerly waiting in the wings, for these public monies, is Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, who is gleefully salivating at the prospect of adding these dollars to their coffers.
McCaughey freely acknowledged to our colleague, Fran Spielman, over at the Chicago Sun-Times that “Meeks’s previous plan would have provided only $3,000 per voucher allowing Catholic schools to use them only to fill existing empty seats. But at $4,500 a voucher, she said, the archdiocese could open 8,000 to 10,000 new elementary seats.”
We couldn’t help but wonder what Thomas Jefferson would have said in response to Sister’s anticipated joy, as the architect of separation of church and state in this country.
Are we abandoning the public school system only to fund private religious schools?
In a city with decreasing opportunities for the middle class, what about job creation? Despite a slight decrease in unemployment to 8.9% these numbers are still worrisome.
Also, affordable housing and public transportation are still on the front burner.
Despite a buyer’s market many of Chicagoapartments are ageing, and run by distant landlords with the sole motive of profit, with many renters facing substandard maintenance and the increasing specter of a variety of bugs.
Are we to have a city that gives brilliance to lakefront living, and downtown condos, or is the new Chicagoonly for the mega wealthy?
And, last but not least is the annual prospect of the CTA threatening to hold us all hostages in the face of their ever convoluted revenue stream.
Say it ain’t so Rahm, say it ain’t so.